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Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors
What is Sue and Settle?
"Sue and Settle" refers to when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process. The agency intentionally relinquishes statutory discretion by committing to timelines and priorities that often realign agency duties. These settlement agreements are negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the public or affected parties.
As an example, between 2009 and 2012, EPA chose not to defend itself in over 60 lawsuits from special interest advocacy groups. These cases resulted in settlement agreements and EPA publishing more than 100 new regulations - including the recent Clean Power Plan.
Recent Notices of Intent to Sue on EPA's Website
|3/8/2017||CAA, Sierra Club
For failure to conduct triennial reports to congress on Environmental and Conservation Impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard and failure to conduct Anti-Backsliding Analysis or determine if mitigation measures are necessary.
|2/23/2017||CAA, Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club, and Air Alliance Houston
For failure to timely grant or deny a petition to object to Part 70 Operating Permit issued to the ExxonMobil Corporation for the Baytown Refinery in Hanis County, Texas.
|2/14/2017||CAA, Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Environmental Health
For failure to make “bump up” determinations for Philadelphia and Washington D.C. marginal nonattainment areas for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.
|2/9/2017||CAA, Environmental Integrity Project and Sierra Club
For Failure to Timely Grant or Deny a Petition to Object to Part 70 Operating Permit for the Welsh Power Plant in Titus County, Texas.
For a full list of EPA's Notices of Intent to Sue, visit http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html.
What is New in Sue and Settle?
- 2/28: CNBC | Trump executive order seeks to roll back controversial Obama water rules
- 2/28: E&E Publishing | 'Deadline' lawsuits largely determined FWS's focus — GAO (subscription required)
- 2/27: Yahoo | Sierra Club to sue EPA over failure to report on ethanol
- 2/25: EcoWatch | Nation's First Lawsuit Filed Against EPA's Scott Pruitt
- 2/24: Daily Caller | Enviros Sue Trump’s EPA To Save Salmon From Climate Change
- 2/19: OPB: | Timber Companies Sue Over Cascade-Siskiyou Monument Expansion
- 2/13: Bloomberg BNA | EPA Settlement of Citizen Suits May End Under Trump
- 2/9: ABC News | Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Files 1st Legal Challenge Over Dakota Access Pipeline Easement
- 2/9: E&E Publishing | Trump order will be hard to overturn — legal experts (subscription required)
- 2/8: Law 360 | EPA Says Coal Jobs Appeal Needs to be Decided Quickly (subscription required)
- 2/2: Ventura County Star | Lawsuit targets new pesticide rules
- 2/2: The Hill | House votes to strike down two Obama-era rules
- 2/2: E&E Publishing | Green group pushes unconventional climate suit (subscription required)
See all -- Sue and Settle News Archive
What are the Economic Implications of our Findings?
Interactive List of All Sue & Settle Cases
Also see this alternate table, which lists court cases resolved by agency action in response to legal challenges.